How to make traditional renaissance faire boots

I don’t know the origin of this photocopied book or its title, but it might be of interest to those of you who have seen people having their feet and legs duct-taped at Renaissance Faires and have wondered about the process for transforming the tape into patterns for boots – and then the process for transforming the patterns into some of the beautiful boots seen at faires.

Seen here is a photo of a simple Renaissance-Faire boot that I have made, but it’s made by the stitch-down process, so there is a little edge turned out where the upper meets the sole – I offer a DVD and patterns for making boots by this process).

In traditional “ren boots”, this seam is turned in. If you’re not familiar with these boots, simply google and you’ll find all sorts of “Renaissance Faire boots”.

To view this book, click on the link below.





“First Footsteps” shoemaking workshop

“First Footsteps” Shoemaking Workshop

Saturday April 12


All Things Local Coop

Amherst, MA

horizontal firstfootsteps


How could shoes for beginning walkers be more healthy than these! Made of leather with natural rubber soles, they have a wide toe area, no heel and flexible sole – as close to being barefoot as possible, yet the little feet inside the shoes are comfortable and protected. These shoes are good for both the child you love and for our shared environment.

Shoes are size 4 – good for shower, birth or first birthday gifts – or any time in-between!

To attend the workshop, purchase the shoemaking kit from All Things Local – or you can purchase one at the workshop. Bring it with you to the workshop and we’ll assemble them together. The kits are being sold for $15.00 (they will regularly be $25 – $30.00) at this time so a variety of children can “test-walk” them before we solidify the design. Please email Sharon to let her know you plan to participate.

The shoemaking kit offers patterns for children’s size shoes from 3 to 6, so you will have the experience and patterns to make many more shoes.

workshop offered by:

Sharon Raymond

email any questions to:

Preview of coming attractions…

first lowmoc in red

I’ll soon be offering a new book – How to Make the Simplest Shoes with your own two hands! It will describe and offer patterns for a process I’ve wanted to tinker with for a long time – and recently a few things aligned, especially during the creation of  “First Walkers” shoemaking kits for toddlers. While making the prototype for these shoes I experimented with bringing the sole up higher around the edge of the shoe – my granddaughter seemed to struggle a bit with the flat turned-out stitch-down soles while learning to walk. It seemed she needed shoes that were more rounded, more foot-shaped.

Then I wanted to try bringing up the edge of the soles of women’s shoes. So here’s a photo of my first try! (and yes, that’s  deep snow still in my yard..) I call this style the “low-moc”; it’s made somewhat like a moccasin, but the sole only comes up about 3/4″ around the foot. Any of the uppers from How to Make Simple Shoes for Women can be used for making these shoes – just use a compass to cut off 3/4″ from the bottom edge of the pattern!

These are truly the simplest shoes to make, I think, because:

  • you don’t need lasts – the raised edge creates a nice shape in the toe area
  • so, you don’t need a toe box
  • you don’t need a belt sander to even the edge of the sole as you do when making stitch-downs (the stitch-down edge is composed of the bottom edge of the upper, the topsole, and the bottom sole) – lowmocs have only the bottom sole.
  • only simple hand-tools are used to make them
  • no need at all for noxious shoe cements! – the bottom sole is stitched on

STAY TUNED! I’ll soon have a new website, along with these new simple shoemaking products.

The anarchist’s shoes

I was delighted to receive a link to a blog post entitled “the anarchist’s shoes” describing the author’s first efforts at shoemaking – and for that preliminary project she chose to make shoes for an anarchist with bunions and curled toes!

She used information from my blog post on how to make shoes for someone with swollen feet, plus her own ingenuity – lots of it! – to construct the shoes. I find it very interesting, how choices are made regarding materials, construction, tools; each pair provides ample opportunity for flexing our problem-solving skills. What an unique design feature the maker used to create ample toe room! Finished Shoes



Children’s lasts on ebay

is the link to a set of childen’s lasts from size 5 I believe to size 1. At $125.00 it’s a great deal. The toe is a little square for me, but it can be sanded into a more rounded shape if that’s what you want. You can use lasts to make patterns over, as well as have a foot of the right size always available to try your creations on. The sale ends tomorrow.

Diane’s bellows-tongue shoes


Hi Sharon,
I have not made any shoes in a while but finally I had some time and made a pair of bellows tongue shoes. They are so comfortable! And the best part is that I used fabric for the top so if I change my mind and want a different look or the fabric wears out before the leather, I can just put in new fabric. Also, they will be cooler to wear on hot days.

I have sent some pictures for you, including one of how I have had to modify the pattern to fit my feet. I cannot do that rounded heel cup thing at all otherwise I step on the seam and it hurts. I guess my feet are a lot differently shaped than yours!

I got the leather from a yard sale, the fabric from an old pair of jeans someone threw out and the soles from a local store that sells industrial cast-offs. We have a couple of shoe designers in town, including the company that makes the Teva, Simple and Ugg brands, so sometimes soles, leather and shoe parts turn up there.


note from Sharon: Diane used a pattern from How to Make Simple Shoes for Women – with your own two hands! to make these shoes. She put some time into customizing the patterns, but I think she agrees that the results were worth the effort. I love the slope of the topline, the loops she made to catch the laces, the color of the heel support piece and the little touch of braid – so many opportunities for creative thinking!


Toluene damages developing brains

$_3In this article is a reference to toluene, the chemical found in shoe cements. To avoid its use I stitch soles to shoes instead of cementing them on.

Scientists name 6 more toxins affecting developing brains

Updated: February 14, 2014 9:48 PM

The number of industrial chemicals in widespread use recognized to cause childhood brain impairments has more than doubled since 2006, scientists said Friday.

Researchers at the Mount Sinai Hospital and Harvard School of Public Health cited six broad groups of toxins in 2006 as having a direct impact on human brain development. Now, they have identified another six, which include metals and inorganic compounds, pesticides and dangerous solvents.

Based on their examination of chemicals that are widely used — but untested for human safety — the scientists concluded that fetal and early childhood exposures have grown into a silent pandemic of neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, dyslexia and even losses in IQ points.


Some of the brain-damaging compounds, they say, waft through the air of countless homes as house dust.

“These are chemicals that Americans are exposed to on a regular basis,” said Dr. Philip Landrigan, chairman of preventive medicine at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine in Manhattan and director of the Children’s Environmental Health Center at the hospital.

In the first study Landrigan and colleagues named arsenic, arsenic-based compounds, lead, methylmercury, TOLUENE  and polychlorinated biphenyls — PCBs — as key brain-damaging culprits. That list was culled from a longer one containing 202 brain-damaging chemical suspects.

A mother’s shoemaking adventure

kuva finnish shoe

I thought readers might enjoy this email and the photo that accompanied it, which describes a mother’s shoemaking journey, thus far.

My son has narrow heels and needs a wide toe box. Thus for him I have had to change the patterns completely. Here is a photo of my 8-year-old daughter’s boots, made with your women’s derby pattern. The smallest pattern was printed at 94%, which makes about a US size 2, I think. I also made the boots taller, as these are for Scandinavian winter. They were made out of organic leather and there is a thick layer of 100% wool felt all over inside, except on the soles. The soles are a layer of some other type of wool felt next to the foot (probably some percentage of polyester, as these sheets are firm and even, unlike the wool inside and don’t pill), and two layers of 1/8 plantation crepe glued to the felt. In other words, these are an attempt to make “barefoot boots” suitable for weather that requires something warm, especially to insulate against the snow. They are very light and flexible. The color combo is not necessarily what I would choose, but was requested by my daughter.

They actually look much nicer in real life, after having been stretched over lasts. I have made all my shoes completely without lasts, as I was not able to get some until a couple of weeks ago and this is how I had taught myself before buying patterns. While I use a machine and thus don’t make any holes for stitching, I have had little trouble lining up the uppers and the sole, even without lasts. The lasts do make the front look a lot nicer, though, more like a shoe, less like a slipper.

I have used an old hand crank Singer, which does a nice job… mostly. However, attaching the upper to the sole (one layer of the same leather) has usually ended up in swearing and a sore finger, as I need to press the presser foot with my thumb in order to make the machine not skip stitches, especially at the front and back where there are three layers of leather. It is just not meant for this kind of work, even with a leather needle and all. To hopefully solve the issue, I just bought a Frobana oustole stitcher. While it is way too much machine for shoes with such thin soles, I am hoping it will be a good solution. As it stitches sideways, it removes the issue of one side of the presser foot needing to press on too much leather at the heal and all that. Also, if I manage to buy the part that the edge of the sole is pressed on while sewing, it will always sew at the same distance from the edge. We’ll see if I can actually make it work.

At the moment I have no more soling, so I need to figure that out first. From what I understand, Shreiner wants a minimum order of 200 dollars of each item. (Is this correct?). As I used the 1/8 in. black sheets, I would need to find someone else who used the exact same one in order to not have to buy so much.

Sorry about the long explanation. Most people are not exactly interested, so it is fun to tell someone that understands. I have many times got the comment that I should sell what I make. It is frustrating, as it shows that the people don’t understand at all how many hours of work goes into each pair. (Mainly, as for gifts I have usually put a picture of something the child likes on the shoes, and creating little things out of leather can easily take many, many hours.)